A new lease on life for the country’s flagship museum
After last year’s facelift, the museums in Athens have increased their visitor numbers and exhibitions. The Olympic period saw fewer visitors, which hit museums hard. Recent indications are encouraging, according to Nikos Kaltsas, the president of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens: «Last April, we had 45,000 visitors, a significant number, considering it was not peak season. In previous years, the museum has had double that amount of visitors during this period, without, of course, taking into account 1998 and 1999 when the museum was closed for restoration work.» The National Archaeological Museum has yet another reason to be pleased: It has just inaugurated its rooms on the first floor after a five-year period of closure. On display over a surface area of 1,700 sq.m. is a rich collection of vessels, dating from the geometric period to the fourth century BC and the famous Thera frescoes, occupying 200 sq.m. Three permanent exhibitions are in fact now open to the public: the Thera frescoes («Spring,» «Antelopes» and «Boxing Children»), the vessel and bronze collections. The room where the bronze collection is housed was in fact closed back in 1979 with the exception of the Karapanou Collection. The public now has the opportunity to enjoy this wealth of artifacts, exhibits that have not been on show for 25 years and others that are making their first appearance, such as the Ambelokipi finds and an ensemble of bronze statues from the Roman period unearthed near the Panathenaic Stadium. There are also several artifacts originating from various temples in Arcadia, Messinia, Laconia and a large collection from Olympia not to mention the bronze artifacts from the Acropolis. A cafe is also planned in the square in front of the museum.